Thursday, April 30, 2009

And talking of 'books'...

I heard rumours last year about a revolutionary Print-On-Demand machine that Blackwell's were intending to trial - so that their bookshops could offer a much bigger range of out-of-print or out-of-copyright books.

I can see this as an interesting supplement to libraries in the future (?)

Anyway - after appearing at The London Book Fair, the service now got launched - see The Guardian article.

Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London

Launching in London today, the Espresso Book Machine can print any of 500,000 titles while you wait

The whole approach to paper seems a good idea - just look at the selective PDF versions of the news and topical subjects that The Guardian offers as downloads you could print for yourself. See Guardian 24.

Bob Young - Lulu founder - with his unsold books
And, of course, I should mention the P.O.D. self-publishing market - most famously Lulu, but there are many others (Amazon apparently insists that if you want your book listed with them you have to use their Booksurge product). Why print books that will only get pulped? That doesn't mean we get rid of books and paper completely, just be a bit more selective and frugal about printing out...

I have been experimenting with Lulu

  • to understand the process
  • to make hard copies (or free downloads as PDFs) available of my experiments in high-speed writing - with the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a book in a month
  • to offer copies of any other material I find interesting (family and friends' unpublished works).
  • See my Lulu store front, here - not vanity, just 'learning by doing'.

Fast Complex Interchange

And as you can make single copies, or short runs, you might find more innovative uses for Lulu - like this guy who wanted to compile some online articles (reading on a screen can be tiring) so made up a simple paper book for himself. His original post with more detail.Things I Would Rather Read on Paper

And the article which inspired him - Instapaper - Analogue Edition by Emmet Connolly

Instapaper - saving interesting online articles to read later.

The Self Publishing Review on creating your own self-publishing imprint...

You Write On A.C.E. initiative.

MidLife Writer blog

Sunday, April 19, 2009

B.O.O.K. Technology & P.E.N.C.I.L.s

This just turned up in an old file. I thought it came from Anon, but the Warrior Librarian gives this attribution (if so, that was when I was still in school - pretty anticipatory!):

Heathorn. R.J. (1962). Punch Magazine, May 9, 1962. Circulated through bulk emails, 2000, 2001.

Breakthrough in Educational Technology

New Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge Device

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology; no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere - even sitting in an armchair by the fire - yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.

Here's how it works:

BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use more pages. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, though, like other devices, it can become damaged if coffee is spilled on it and it becomes unusable if dropped too many times on a hard surface, but it is far more durable than all personal computers on the market. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pin-points the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "Bookmark" accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session - even if the BOOK has been closed. Bookmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single Bookmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOK markers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with optional programming tools, Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylii (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking to invest. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Free Thinkers Accept the Mystery

Actually, I intended to use FreeThinker in the technical sense - of 'atheists' who don't like defining themselves with a negative term.

I don't think of 'God' as a default setting, which I have to deny. (a-theist).

My default setting remains an experience of a mysterious environment - which contains and includes me (a mysterious point of consciousness). I expect 'believers' to have to convince me that someone or something 'created' this mystery.

I don't have an answer, as I find equally acceptable the idea(s) that it always existed, doesn't exist, could be defined as 'my dream' (solipsism), etc.

Libraries remained my allies in holding out for a variety of explanations, when surrounded by a culture (if not a people) with a default setting of 'God'.

At least Cardiff Libraries provide copies of The Freethinker*

I just got an email alert about this piece from

Get Atheist Books in the Public Library
Get Public Libraries to Provide Atheist, Freethought, Secular Literature
by Austin Cline

"Why Are Public Libraries Important?

[...]Getting enough atheist, freethought, skeptical, secular, and humanist material in libraries is important because not everyone can obtain this material on their own. Some people don't have enough money to buy the books and magazines and few have enough money to buy all the books and magazines. Libraries can carry a broader array of material than bookstores as well as a deeper selection of older material - including material no longer in print. Where else will you find magazines and journals from several years ago?[...]"

*The Freethinker was founded in 1881 by GW Foote, an outspoken critic of religion. After the publication of irreligious cartoons in the 1882 Christmas edition, Foote was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to 12 months hard labour. Despite this setback the magazine has remained in print ever since. You can read more here.

If I had the time to travel...

Fortunately, a lot of conferences attempt to become more accessible over time - and Web 2.0 meetings (almost by definition) offer alternative media and transparency, and access.

I just came across Douglas Rushkoff's keynote speech from San Francisco, at Web 2.0 Expo, a coupla weeks ago.

“How the Web Ate the Economy and Why it’s Great for Everyone.”

Find it on his MediaSquat site (worth 18 minutes of anyone's time...)
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